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Detecting elusive gravitational waves from a rapidly spinning neutron star 6,500 light years away involves narrow fine-tuning here on Earth -- not much different, conceptually anyway, from tuning in a faint radio station.
The DARPA XNAV Program
Since the initial navigation concept demonstrations with the USA Experiment, interest in the possibility of X-ray source-based navigation has greatly increased from within both DoD and NASA. In particular, DARPA has initiated a program it calls XNAV. DARPA is funding two teams, one led by our group at NRL, to perform an 18-month Phase I study of the XNAV concept. Our DARPA-funded work at NRL consists of two task areas:
• a detailed study of the most promising pulsar sources for this application, and
• development of laboratory prototype X-ray detectors well matched to the XNAV tasks.
The High Energy Space Environments Branch at NRL continues to explore the possibility of using X-ray pulsars as natural navigation beacons to provide time, position, and attitude information for spacecraft under a variety of operational concepts. Our plans for the future include detailed development of the algorithms required for the onboard processing of the raw pulse times-of-arrival and an advanced flight test of the detector system. We are also pursuing additional applications for the X-ray detectors such as a potential future large-area X-ray timing mission with ten times the collecting area of NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer. This could probe the behavior of matter in the
strong gravity around neutron stars and black holes in
a way never before possible.
Originally posted by wookiee
reply to post by Phage
If you land up going through a wormhole that takes you to the other side of the galaxy, I don't think that you'd be able to line up any known stars. Pulsars, on the other hand, you'd be able to locate by their frequencies and thus triangulate where you are and how many generations it will take you to return, if you can't re-open the wormhole.
Originally posted by MikeboydUS
Wouldn't it be absolutely bonkers to think this whole time the scientists were right when they discovered the first pulsars? Meaning they were right about thinking the emissions are of extraterrestrial origin.
A galactic network of asteroid sized objects composed of a neutronium based computronium wouldn't just be fancy galactic satellites or galactic internet nodes. The processing and memory power they would have would be far beyond any human mind or hypercomputer we could build on earth.
The craziest part of all of this is the fact that even if the pulsars are just bizarre natural objects, we, the human race, will one day use them in the manner described above.
edited to add info about the lecture.
[edit on 28/2/09 by MikeboydUS]
Originally posted by Anonymous ATS
WOW! I have often wondered how we would navigate our travels when intersteller travel is achieved. The mind boggles when one considers the billions of stars and near infinite points of view i.e. extremely complex maps but this is so simple, at least in principle. As for quantum computation on a planetary scale, where do I start? I mean that literally. This is something I never would have dreamed of dreaming. Will we ever really need to process THAT much information or have I read this wrong?